Dec 142011

Learn how to advertise your business successfully

A lot of people spend a lot of time and money advertising their business. But only a few know how well their advertising is working for them because most of them don’t take the vital action of testing and measuring. Testing and measuring performance is vital across many areas of business but with advertising it’s really important because this is all about you spending money to get customers through the door. Get it wrong and you’ve made a loss before you even start selling.

Many business owners complain that advertising doesn’t work for them. If that’s the case for you then I have some good news. Advertising does work but you need to get your advert right for it to work. How do you get it right? You test and measure.

You often hear people talking about an advertising campaign and that’s exactly what it is. It’s not a single event but a planned out process that will ensure you are victorious at the end. Equally, it’s not something that you will complete in a month, this will take a while. That means it needs dedication and staying power if it is going to work.

Testing and measuring

The first step is to decide where you’re going to advertise. If you’re just starting a small business I would recommend you keep to the cheaper end of advertising until you’ve cut your teeth and understand the process, so try out local newspapers before going for the local radio station.

Using the example of local newspapers or magazines do some research; have a look at the areas they cover, their sales numbers and the cost of the advertising. Also check that their readers are people who will want to buy your product. Talk to the ad department and see what deals you can get (as a rule of thumb never pay the initial price they state; they want your business and so you have some good bargaining power).

Chose a number of papers or magazines, lets say three, and put an identical ad in each one same size, same headline, same offer etc. Now run that ad for at least a month, longer if possible. Don’t be tempted to change it but just monitor the results you get back from it.

How to monitor the results

To understand how each ad is doing you need a way of determining how each customer found you. There are a few tricks to help you out here. First, if your ad is a coupon type ad (‘cut out and bring to the store with you’) then it’s easy. All you do is include a code on the ad somewhere that is unique to that newspaper or magazine. Equally, if people are going to phone or email you or buy via your website then by having a code on the ad you can ask them to quote the code. If people will be walking into your shop then you need to make sure all the sales team are trained up to ask ‘could you tell me where you found out about us?’ with each customer. Whichever code or source they quote simply keep a running tally to see which ad brought in the most business.

Next step

The next step is to knock off the ad source that brought in the fewest customers. Don’t throw away the information though as it may be useful for analysis later and you may still come back to using the later.

Now that you know which publications bring business in for you we can start playing with the adverts themselves, but again, we do it in a measured and logical fashion and only change one thing at a time. So, for the next month change on of the following the headline, the offer, size of advert, adding/subtracting a border, adding/subtracting a photo from the ad etc.

The difference with this stage is we put a different headline or offer on each ad. After testing and measuring that we can then change one more thing and see what difference that makes. All the time you are honing down what makes a good ad for your business and getting closer and closer to the ideal advert. Sometimes you may try something that reduces the response to an advert; that’s fine because it shows you what you shouldn’t do and that’s as important as knowing what you should.

If you want to learn how to advertise your business successfully then this is the only real way of doing so. Testing and measuring is quite a long and boring process which is why most people don’t do it or give up before it starts working for them. Like many things in life it’s those that persevere who take the rewards so stick with it.